Design is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of Enterprise by Design this year. Working with partners DMM and Halen Môn to create specific packaging that is both appealing and sustainable for this year’s challenge, our teams will have to grasp the importance of good design to come up with innovative ideas. At first glance, designing packaging might not seem like the most exciting part of creating a product, but for week three, our students found out just how important packaging is to catching the eye of potential customers, and the materials that can be used to make their products more environmentally friendly. 

Learning about the Biocomposite Centre 

For the first half of week 3, Adam Charlton showed our students just how important bio-based products are, by giving a talk on materials produced at the Biocomposite Centre. Using materials such as fermented sugars, botanical extracts, fibres and agricultural residue, Adam showed our teams how bio-based products could be used in their packaging. Through industrial collaboration, the biocomposite centre helps large companies, small enterprises, research institutes and farmers find sustainable alternatives to existing products. 

Adam showed the many possibilities of products that could be produced from grasses, wood chips and maize. With the move away from single use plastics, companies around the world are looking for alternatives, and the biocomposite centre focuses on two: bioplastics (renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, straw, wood chips, sawdust, recycled food waste) and fibre-based packaging. 

Though these new alternatives could be great for our teams to work with, the challenge, Adam said, is that they have to be able to create products that are sustainable, functional but also cheaper than what is already out there in the market to entice companies to go with their materials. 

Our teams learned how bio-based products are used by companies such as Waitrose and Tesco, who look for packaging that is functional and effective. By developing packaging through biocomposites, our teams would be using materials that are more likely to be recyclable and would improve DMM and Halen Mon’s sustainability profiles. 

Getting into the mind of a designer 

In the second half of the evening, Dewi Rowlands, the course director for Product Design at the School of Education and Human Development, gave a presentation to our teams on what aspects designers have to consider when creating a product and the importance of good design. Dewi pointed out that designers have to consider why things are the way they are, what influences affect consumers decisions, how things work, how they’re made and why some products are better than others. 

For our teams, getting into a design mindset means they need to come up with ideas that are functional and sustainable for Halen Môn and DMM, but that also will catch the eye of their customers. Our teams have a long road ahead of them, as they come up with designs that are innovative, eye-catching, sustainable and true to their company’s brand and values. 

Dewi urged our teams to think outside of the box, asking students to consider what emotions customers might have when interacting with their product. What could be seen as mundane to most, the packaging of a product, Dewi urged our teams to make their packaging not only a practical necessity for the products, but a whole experience for customers to unpack their new purchase. 

“The best designs, are things that have a clear function and are timeless by nature.”

Dewi Rowlands

Even though the design students in the teams would have some knowledge of creating designs for solo projects, Postgrad facilitator Steffan Jones pointed out how differently Enterprise by Design is for these students when working in a team.

“I think the challenge for them will be working in teams, because they’ve only really done projects by themselves. It’s being a part of a team and actually creating something for a company. I think as well it’s that often times, they’ve only got experiences and perspectives from a design area but with other students they’re coming up with ideas and perspectives from completely different areas…so that’s a challenge in itself managing that sort of thing.” 

Steffan Jones

Creating Keywords

At the end of the night, it was the teams’ turn to think about how their products could affect potential customers. With sticky notes, each team gathered a list of emotions that they hoped customers viewing their product would feel when viewing the design and packaging. Below are some of the ideas our teams came up with. 

The hope with exercises like this one is that our teams can build on the concepts they’ve learned and worked on over the 10 weeks. From forming strong teams of different disciplinary backgrounds on night one, to creating a library full of forms during week two, to then taking the ideas of those forms and perhaps creating a design from them on week three! 

Everything our students are learning from week to week is building up to them having the tools and confidence to present a fully formed idea to a panel of judges, and then hopefully, develop a real product from their ideas even after Enterprise by Design is over. 

Watch our latest video to see how our students are putting themselves in the shoes of designers and learning how to successfully develop ideas for their EBD clients, Halen Môn and DMM. 

Check back with us during next week’s blog to find out what our teams learned about how to make their product stand out in a sea of products at the store!